NIH Press Release
National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases

Tuesday, November 10, 1998

Laurie K. Deopel
(301) 402-1663

Dr. Albert Kapikian Receives CVI Pasteur Award

Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and two other scientists today received the 1998 Children's Vaccine Initiative (CVI) Pasteur Award for Recent Contributions to Vaccine Development. The three were cited collectively for their "outstanding work contributing to development of rotavirus vaccines and their future utilization." Rotavirus is the leading cause of life-threatening diarrhea in infants and young children, claiming more than 870,000 lives each year, mostly in developing countries.

The executive secretary of CVI, Dr. Bjorn Melgaard, presented the award in an afternoon ceremony at the close of a two-day CVI meeting in Geneva. The award includes an honorarium of $10,000, which will be divided equally among the three scientists.

Dr. Kapikian shared the award with Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D., and Ruth Bishop, Ph.D., D.Sc. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Bishop discovered the rotavirus at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Glass of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta - who began working on rotavirus vaccines under Dr. Kapikian - produced the first clear evidence that rotavirus infections are prevalent not only in developing countries but also in industrialized ones.

Dr. Kapikian, head of the epidemiology section in NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, has devoted most of his career to making a safe and effective rotavirus vaccine. He and his NIAID colleagues developed and patented a neo-Jennerian rotavirus vaccine strategy. This strategy involves mating outer proteins from different human rotavirus strains with a monkey rotavirus that is attenuated for humans and combining the resulting hybrid viruses into one vaccine. After beginning research with a single-strain vaccine in 1984, they gradually added components to make the vaccine protective against the four most important clinical strains of rotavirus. With numerous collaborators worldwide, they have tested increasingly complex versions of the vaccine in clinical trials involving nearly 18,000 people in the United States and abroad.

"This well-deserved honor recognizes decades of creative research by Dr. Kapikian and his many collaborators dedicated to a single laudable goal:

develop an effective vaccine against severe rotavirus disease, a major killer of infants and young children worldwide," comments Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "This dream was realized this past August when the first rotavirus vaccine was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration." The FDA licensed the vaccine to Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, which entered into a collaborative agreement with NIAID in 1987 to begin commercial development of the vaccine.

The CVI created the Pasteur Award and two others - the Jenner Award for Recent Contributions to Immunization and the Lifetime Achievement Award - in 1996 to mark the "Year of the Vaccine," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the first vaccine, for smallpox, by British physician Edward Jenner, and the 100th anniversary of the death of French vaccine pioneer Louis Pasteur. The awards honor individuals who have made exceptional contributions to vaccine development and immunization and, in so doing, have expanded protection against infectious diseases. This is only the second time the Pasteur Award has been presented.

Launched at the World Summit for Children in New York in 1990, CVI is an international coalition of public and private sector organizations, including the vaccine industry, working together to protect children against infectious diseases through the development and adoption of safe, effective and easy-to-use vaccines. CVI is co-sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation.

NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID conducts and supports research to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as HIV disease and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at